Reputable health organisations utilizing & supporting medical hypnosis:
- The American Society of Clinical Hypnosis on Medical Hypnosis
- University of Maryland Medical Center on Medical Hypnosis
- Stanford Health Care on Medical Hypnosis
- UPMC Integrative Medicine on Medical Hypnosis
- The University of Minnesota on Medical Hypnosis
- Penn State Psychologist William Ray PhD. on Medical Hypnosis
- Live Science .com Article: Can Hypnosis Be Used as a Medical Treatment?
- Dr. Weil on Hypnotherapy
There has been over a century of careful scientific study of hypnosis. Researchers, typically in the fields of psychology & medicine, have been interested in finding out what hypnosis is, how it works, and how effective it is as a clinical treatment. Some of the first scientists to become interested in studying hypnosis were doctors (notably Liebault and Coue at the Nancy school, and Charcot and Janet at Salpetriere) who developed theories to explain what they saw. In the twentieth century there were teams researching hypnosis at top American universities including Harvard and Stanford, as well as in top English and European universities. Modern hypnosis research tends to be more divided along academic and clinical lines.
Thousands of studies exist on the use of hypnosis for healing. Click here to find articles I have shared here of studies of varying qualities from surveys, placebo controlled to meta analysis.
Hypnosis is one “umbrella term” that also refers to: autogenic training, biofeedback, imagery, breathing, the use of affirmation, subliminal messages, trance, prayer, somatic awareness, imagination, and the power of placebo.
Clinical hypnosis research
Clinical hypnosis research asks the following types of questions:
- “What conditions can be treated effectively with hypnosis?”
- “How can hypnotic techniques best be used clinically?”
- “What kinds of patients benefit most from hypnosis?”
- “Can hypnotic suggestion reduce pain? In what circumstances?”
- “Is hypnosis useful on its own? Or is it best used alongside other treatments?”
Clinical studies have looked at how effective hypnosis is as a clinical treatment for many conditions, including:
- Smoking cessation
- Weight loss
- Making surgery safer, quicker, and more comfortable
Academic hypnosis research
Academic hypnosis research tends to be more concerned with finding out what hypnosis is, and how it works. Some questions that academic research has asked include:
- “How can we define hypnosis and suggestion?”
- “Does hypnosis affect memory recall?”
- “How does hypnosis affect attention? Is attention in hypnosis diffuse or focused?”
- “How does the brain process hypnotic suggestions?”
In the recent literature hypnosis has been used to explore a wide range of phenomenon including:
- Memory (Barnier, 2002; Cox & Barnier, 2003)
- Attention (Raz et al, 2002; Egner et al, 2005)
- Perception & hallucination (Szechtman, 1998; Kosslyn, 2000)
- Pain (Rainville et al, 1997; Derbyshire et al, 2004)
- Voluntary motor control (Halligan et al, 2000; Blakemore et al, 2003)
Instrumental vs. Intrinsic
Hypnosis is also interesting to researchers because of what it can tell us about consciousness, perception, action, and attention. Researchers are increasingly using it as a tool to investigate other aspects of psychology.
Put another way, there are two broad types of hypnosis research, instrumental and intrinsic:
|Instrumental Hypnosis Research||Intrinsic Hypnosis Research|
|uses hypnosis as an experimental tool to investigate other things such as memory, consciousness, pain, perception, or action.||is interested in what hypnosis is, and how it works.|
|How effective is hypnosis as a pain reliever?
What processes operate during memory retrieval?
How do we perceive real and imaginary objects?
|Is hypnosis an altered state of consciousness?
What areas of the brain operate to enact hypnotic suggestions?
Are some people more hypnotisable than others?
Finally, brain EEG and imaging studies are helping us to understand more about what hypnosis is and how it works. This is an exciting field that is now proving how real the effects of hypnosis are.
Journals of hypnosis
Like any other scientific research investigation of hypnosis are published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. These include: the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, the American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, Contemporary Hypnosis, and the Journal of Mind Body Regulation. Hypnosis research is often published in mainstream psychological and medical journals including: Science, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Consciousness and Cognition, Personality and Individual Differences, NeuroImage.
Hypnosis research papers
Links to articles hosted on author websites are provided where possible. Unfortunately many articles can only be accessed by having to pay for access. If you want a free copy of any of these articles your best bet is to email the author and ask for a reprint.
Abbot, N. C., Stead, L.F., White, A. R., Barnes, J. (1998) Hypnotherapy for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Issue 2. Art. No.: CD001008. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001008
Accardi MC, Milling LS. The effectiveness of hypnosis for reducing procedure-related pain in children and adolescents: a comprehensive methodological review. J Behav Med. 2009 Aug;32(4):328-39.
Alladin, A. (2009). Evidence-based cognitive hypnotherapy for depression. Contemporary Hypnosis, 26(4). 245-262.
Alladin A, Alibhai A. Cognitive hypnotherapy for depression: an empirical investigation. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(2):147-66.
Allison, D. B., Faith, M. S. (1996). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioural psychotherapy for obesity: A meta-analytic reappraisal. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 513-516.
Araoz D. Hypnosis in human sexuality problems. Am J Clin Hypn. 2005;47(4):229-42.
Banyai, E. I., Hilgard, E. R. (1976). A comparison of active-alert hypnotic induction with traditional relaxation induction. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 85(2), 218-224.
Bär, K. J., Gaser, C., Nenadic, I., Sauer, H. (2002). Transient activation of a somatosensory area in painful hallucinations shown by fMRI. NeuroReport, 13(6), 1-4.
Barabasz, M., Spiegel, D. (1989). Hypnotizability and weight loss in obese subjects. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 8, 335-341.
Barber, T. X. (2000). A deeper understanding of hypnosis: Its secrets, its nature, its essence. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 42, 208-272
Barber, J., Donaldson, D., Ramras, S., Allen, G. D. (1979). The relationship between nitrous oxide conscious sedation and the hypnotic state. Journal of the American Dental Association, 99(4), 624-626.
Barber, T. X., Wilson, S. C. (1978). The Barber Suggestibility Scale and the Creative Imagination Scale: Experimental and clinical applications. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 21: 84-108.
Barnier, A. J. (2002). Post-hypnotic amnesia for autobiographical episodes: a laboratory model of functional amnesia? Psychological Science, 13: 232-7.
Barnier, A. M., McConkey, K. M. (2004). Defining and identifying the highly hypnotizable person. In: M. Heap, R. J. Brown, D. A. Oakley (Eds.), The Highly Hypnotizable Person. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Barnier, A. J., McConkey, K. M. (2003). Hypnosis, human nature and complexity: integrating neuroscience approaches into hypnosis research. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 51: 282-308.
Barnier, A. J., Nash, M. R. (2008). Introduction: a roadmap for explanation, a working definition. In M. R. Nash & A. J. Barnier (eds). The Oxford Handbook of Hypnosis: Theory, Research and Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Barrios, A. A. (2001). A theory of hypnosis based on principles of conditioning and inhibition. Contemporary Hypnosis, 18, 163-202.
Beck, A. T., Alford, B. A. (2009). Depression: Causes and treatment. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press
Benedetti, F., Maggi, G., Lopiano, L., Lanotte, M., Rainero, I., Vighetti, S., Pollo, A. (2003). Open versus hidden medical treatments: The patient’s knowledge about a therapy affects the therapy outcome. Prevention & Treatment, Vol 6(1), Jun 2003, No Pagination Specified Article 1a
Benham, G., Bowers, S., Nash, M., Muenchen, R. (1998). Self-fulfilling prophecy and hypnotic response are not the same thing. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1604-1613.
Bernstein, E. M., & Putnam, F. W. (1986). Development, reliability, and validity of a dissociation scale. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 174, 727–735.
Bisson J, Andrew M. Psychological treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2007;(3):CD003388.
Blakemore, S-J., Oakley, D. A., Frith, C. D. (2003). Delusions of alien control in the human brain. Neuropsychologia, 41: 1058-67.
Bolocofsky, D. N., Spinler, D., Coulthard-Morris, L. (1985). Effectiveness of hypnosis as an adjunct to behavioural weight management. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 41, 35-41.
Borkovec, T. D., Fowles, D. C. (1973). Controlled investigation of the effects of progressive and hypnotic relaxation on insomnia. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 82(1), 153-158.
Bornstein, P. H., Devine, D. A. (1980). Covert modeling-hypnosis in the treatment of obesity. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 17, 272-276.
Bowers, K. S. (1992). Imagination and dissociation in hypnotic responding. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 40, 253-275.
Bowers, K. S. (1993). The Waterloo-Stanford Group C (WSGC) scale of hypnotic susceptibility: Normative and comparative data. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 41, 35-46.
Bowers, K. S. (1998). Waterloo-Stanford Group Scale of Hypnotic Susceptibility, Form C: Manual and Response Booklet. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 46(3), 250-268.
Braffman, W., Kirsch, I. (2001). Reaction time as a predictor of imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability. Contemporary Hypnosis, 18(3), 107-119.
Braid, J. (1943). Neurohypnology or the rationale of nervous sleep considered in relation with animal magnetism. London.
British Psychological Society. (2001). The Nature of Hypnosis: A report prepared by a Working Party at the request of the Professional Affairs Board of the British Psychological Society. Download paper from BPS website
Brown, R. J. (1999). An integrative cognitive theory of suggestion and hypnosis. Unpublished PhD thesis, University College London.
Brown, R. J., Oakley, D. A. (2004). An integrative cognitive theory of hypnosis and hypnotizability. In: M. Heap, R. J. Brown, D. A. Oakley (Eds.), The Highly Hypnotizable Person. New York: Brunner-Routledge.
Brown D. Evidence-based hypnotherapy for asthma: a critical review. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(2):220-49.
Brown DC, Hammond DC. Evidence-based clinical hypnosis for obstetrics, labor and delivery, and preterm labor. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):355-71.
Bryant, R. A., Kourch, M. (2001). Hypnotically-induced emotional numbing. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 49, 220-230.
Bryant, R. A. (2005). Hypnotic emotional numbing: A study of implicit emotion. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 53, 26-36.
Bryant, R. A., Kapur, A. (2006). Hypnotically-induced emotional numbing: The roles of hypnosis and hypnotizability. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 54(3), 281-291.
Cash, T. F., Brown, T. A. (1987). Body image in anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Behaviour Modification, 11(4), 487-521.
Casiglia E, Schiavon L, Tikhonoff V, et al. Hypnosis prevents the cardiovascular response to cold pressor test. Am J Clin Hypn. 2007;49(4):255-66.
Cloninger, C. R., Svrakic, D. M., Przybeck, T. R. (1993). A psychobiological model of temperament and character. Archives of General Psychiatry, 50(12), 975-990.
Cohen, J. (1988). Statistical power analysis for the behavioural sciences (2nd ed.). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Cojan, Y., Waber, L., Schwartz, S., Rossier, L., Forster, A., Vuilleumier, P. (2009). The brain under self-control: Modulation of inhibitory and monitoring cortical networks during hypnotic paralysis. Neuron, 62, 862-875. Link to abstract on PubMed
Cojan, Y., Piguet, C., & Vuilleumier, P. (2015). What makes your brain suggestible? Hypnotizability is associated with differential brain activity during attention outside hypnosis. NeuroImage, 117, 367-374.
Council, J. R. (1993). Context effects in personality research. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2, 31-4.
Council, J. R., Kirsch, I., Grant, D. L. (1996). Imagination, expectancy, and hypnotic responding. In: R. G. Kunzendorf, N. P. Spanos and B. Wallace (Eds.), Hypnosis and Imagination (pp. 41-65), New York: Baywood.
Covino, N. A., Bottari, M. (2001). Hypnosis, behavioural theory, and smoking cessation. Journal of Dental Education, 65(4), 340-347.
Crawford, H. J., Gruzelier, J. H. (1992). A midstream view of the neuropsychophysiology of hypnosis: recent research and future directions. In: Fromm, E., Nash, M. (Eds.), Contemporary Hypnosis Research. Guilford Press, New York, USA, pp. 227-266.
Crawford, H. J., Gur, R. C., Skolnick, B., Gur, R. E., Benson, D. M. (1993). Effects of hypnosis on regional cerebral blood flow during ischemic pain with and without suggested hypnotic analgesia. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 15, 181-195.
de Groh, M. (1989). Correlates of hypnotic susceptibility. In: N. P. Spanos., J. F. Chaves. Hypnosis: The Cognitive Behavioural Perspective. New York: Prometheus Books.
Deckert, G. H., West, L. J. (1963). The problem of hypnotizability: A review. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 11, 205-235.
Deeprose, C., Andrade, J. (2006). Is priming during anesthesia unconscious? Consciousness and Cognition, 15, 1-23. doi:10.1016/j.concog.2005.05.003
Derbyshire, S. W. G., Whalley, M. G., Stenger, V. A., Oakley, D. A. (2004). Cerebral activation during hypnotically induced and imagined pain. NeuroImage, 27: 969-78. View PDF (0.5 MB)
Derbyshire, S. W. G., Whalley, M. G., Oakley, D. A. (2008). Fibromyalgia pain and its modulation by hypnotic and non-hypnotic suggestion: An fMRI analysis. European Journal of Pain (in press) View PDF (0.5 MB)
Deyoub, P. L., Wilkie, R. (1980). Suggestion with and without hypnotic induction in a weight reduction program. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 28, 333-340.
Dienes, Z., Brown, E., Hutton, S., Kirsch, I., Mazzoni, G., Wright, D. B. (2009). Hypnotic suggestibility, cognitive inhibition, and dissociation. Consciousness and Cognition, 18, 837-847. Download paper
Dienes, Z., & Perner, J. (2007). The cold control theory of hypnosis. In G. Jamieson (Ed.), Hypnosis and conscious states: The cognitive neuroscience perspective. Oxford University Press, pp 293-314.
Egner, T., Jamieson, G., Gruzelier, J. (2005). Hypnosis decouples cognitive control from conflict monitoring processes of the frontal lobe. NeuroImage, 27, 969-978.
Elkins G, Johnson A, Fisher W. Cognitive hypnotherapy for pain management. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012;54(4):294-310.
Elkins G, Ramsey D, Yu Y. Hypnotherapy for persistent genital arousal disorder: a case study. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2014; 62(2):215-23.
Emami MH, Gholamrezaei A, Daneshgar H. Hypnotherapy as an adjuvant for the management of inflammatory bowel disease: a case report. Am J Clin Hypn. 2009 Jan;51(3):255-62.
Emmons, W. H., Simon, C. W. (1955). The non-recall of material presented during sleep. The American Journal of Psychology, 69, 76-81
Erhard, H. W., Mendl, M., Christiansen, S. B. (1999). Individual differences in tonic immobility may reflect behavioural strategies. Applied Animal Behaviour Science, 64, 31-46.
Erickson, M. H. (1954). Hypnotism. In Encyclopedia Britannica, 14th Edition.
Eriksen, B. A., Eriksen, C. W. (1974). Effects of noise letters upon the identification of a traget letter in a nonsearch task. Perception & Psychophysics, 16, 143-149.
Facco E, Casiglia E, Masiero S, Tikhonoff V, Giacomello M, Zanette G. Effects of hypnotic focused analgesia on dental pain threshold. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2011;59(4):454-68.
Faith, M., Ray, W. J. (1994). Hypnotizability and dissociation in a college age population: orthogonal individual differences. Personality and Individual Differences, 17, 211-216.
Faymonville, M. E., Mambourg, P. H., Joris, J., Vrijens, B., Fissette, J. Albert, A., Lamy, M. (1997). Psychological approaches during conscious sedation. Hypnosis versus stress reducing strategies: a prospective randomized study. Pain, 73, 361-367.
Faymonville, M. E., Laureys, S., Degueldre, C., Fiore, G. D., Luxen, A., Franck, G., Lamy, M., Maquet, P. (2000). Neural mechanisms of antinociceptive effects of hypnosis. Anesthesiology, 92, 1257-1267.
Faymonville, M. E., Roediger, L., Fiore, G. D., Delgueldre, C., Phillips, C., Lamy, M., Luxen, A., Maquet, P., Laureys, S. (2003). Increased cerebral functional connectivity underlying the antinociceptive effects of hypnosis. Cognitive Brain Research, 17, 255-262.
Flammer, E., Bongartz, W. (2003). On the efficacy of hypnosis: A meta-analytic study. Contemporary Hypnosis, 20, 179-197.
Flammer E, Alladin A. The efficacy of hypnotherapy in the treatment of psychosomatic disorders: meta-analytical evidence. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):251-74.
Flaten, M. A., Simonsen, T., Olsen, H. (1999). Drug-related information generates placebo and nocebo responses that modify the drug response. Psychosomatic Medicine, 61, 250-255.
Folz, E. L., While, L. E. (1962). Pain “relief” by frontal cingulotomy. Journal of Neurosurgery, 19: 89-100.
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Fromm, E. (1990). Self-hypnosis: The Chicago paradigm. New York: The Guildford Press
Fromm, E. (1992). An ego-psychological theory of hypnosis. In E. Fromm and M. Nash (Eds), Contemporary Hypnosis Research (pp. 131-148), London, Guilford Press.
Gallup, G. G. (1974). Animal hypnosis: factual status of a fictional concept. Psychological Bulletin, 81(11), 836-853.
Gandhi, B., Oakley, D. A. (2005). Does ‘hypnosis’ by any other name smell as sweet? The efficacy of ‘hypnotic’ inductions depends on the label ‘hypnosis’. Consciousness and Cognition, 14, 304-315.
Gheorghiou, V. A., Polczyk, R., Kappeller, C. (2003). The Warmth Suggestibility Scale—a procedure for measuring the influence of suggestion on warmth sensations. Personality and Individual Differences, 34, 219-234.
Gibson, H. B., Corcoran, M. E., Curran, J. D. (1977). Hypnotic susceptibility and personality: The consequences of diazepam and the sex of the subjects. British Journal of Psychology, 68, 51-59.
Golden WL. Cognitive hypnotherapy for anxiety disorders. Am J Clin Hypn. 2012;54(4):263-74.
Goldstein, A., Hilgard, E. R. (1975). Failure of opiate antagonist Naloxone to modify hypnotic analgesia. Proceedings of the National Acadmeny of Sciences, USA, 6, 2041-2043.
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Gorassini, D. R. (2004). Enhancing hypnotizability. In M. Heap, R. J., Brown, D. A. Oakley. The Highly Hypnotizable Person, London: Routledge.
Graci GM, Hardie JC. Evidenced-based hypnotherapy for the management of sleep disorders. Int J Clin Exp Hypn. 2007;55(3):288-302.
Green, J. (2006) The five factor model of personality and hypnotizability: little variance in common. Contemporary Hypnosis, 21(4), 161-168
Green, J. P., Barabasz, A. F., Barrett, D., Montgomery, G. H. (2005). Forging ahead: the 2003 APA Division 30 definition of hypnosis. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis
Green, J. P., Lynn, S. J. (2000). Hypnosis and suggestion-based approaches to smoking cessation. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 48(2), 195-223.
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Halligan, P. W., Athwal, B. S., Oakley, D. A., Frackowiak, R. S. J. (2000). The functional anatomy of a hypnotic paralysis: implications for conversion hysteria. The Lancet, 356: 986-7.
Halsband, U., Mueller, S., Hinterberger, T., Strickner, S. (2009). Plasticity changes in the brain in hypnosis and meditation. Contemporary Hypnosis, 26(4), 194-215.
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Hilgard, E. R., Crawford, H. J., Wert, A. (1979). The Stanford Hypnotic Arm Levitation Induction and Test (SHALIT): a six minute hypnotic induction and measurement scale. International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 27(2), 111-124.
Holmes, E. A., Brown, R. J., Mansell, W., Fearon, R. P., Hunter, E. C. M., Frasquilho, F., Oakley, D. (2005). Are there two qualitatively distinct forms of dissociation? A review and some clinical implications. Clinical Psychology Review, 225, 1-23.
Horton, J. E., Crawford, H. J., Harrington, G., Downs, J. H. (2004). Increased anterior corpus callosum size associated with hypnotizability and the ability to control pain. Brain, 127(8), 1741-1747. Read paper
Houghton L. A., Heyman D.J., Whorwell P.J. (1996). Symptomatology, quality of life and economic features of irritable bowel syndrome–the effect of hypnotherapy. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 10:1, 91-5.
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Kekecs, Z., Nagy, T., Varga, K. (2014). The Effectiveness of Suggestive Techniques in Reducing Postoperative Side Effects: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Anesthesia & Analgesia, 119(6), 1407-1419.
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Kirsch, I. (1985). Response expectancy as a determinant of experience and behaviour. American Psychologist, 40, 1189-1202. Download from jgh.ca
Kirsch, I. (1996). Hypnotic enhancement of cognitive-behavioural weight-loss treatments – another meta-reanalysis. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 64, 517-519.
Kirsch, I., Cardeña, E., Derbyshire, S., Dienes, Z., Heap, M., Kallio, S., Mazzoni, G., Naish, P., Oakley, D., Potter, C., Walters, V., Whalley, M. (2011). Definitions of Hypnosis and Hypnotizability and their Relation to Suggestion and Suggesitibility: A Consensus Statement. Contemporary Hypnosis (in press) Read draft version of paper
Kirsch, I., Mazzoni, G., Montgomery, G. H. (2007). Remembrance of hypnosis past. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 49, 171-178.
Kirsch, I., Montgomery, G., & Sapirstein, G. (1995). Hypnosis as an adjunct to cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy: A meta-analysis. Journal of Consulting & Clinical Psychology, 63, 214-220.
Kirsch, I., Lynn, S. J. (1997). Hypnotic involuntariness and the automaticity of everyday life. American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis, 40, 329-348.
Kirsch, I., Wickless, C., Moffitt, K. H. (1999). Expectancy and suggestibility: Are the effects of environmental enhancement due to detection? International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis, 47, 40-45.
Kirsch, I., Braffman, W. (2001). Imaginative suggestibility and hypnotizability. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 4(2), 57-61.
Knox, V. J., Morgan, A. H., Hilgard, E. R. (1974). Pain and suffering in ischemia: the paradox of hypnotically suggested anesthesia as contradicted by reports from the ‘hidden observer’. Archives of General Psychiatry, 30, 840-847.
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